Research

Light controlled organization of cell like compartments

In nature the organization of simple building blocks such as cells or organelles results in emergent properties and the self-organization of these is dynamic and regulated. Consequently, in the bottom-up approach to synthetic biology it is important to control the self-organization of molecular building blocks and cell like compartments, in which various life processes take place, with high spatial and temporal precision. We seek to achieve the reversible control of interactions and the organization for building blocks and compartments in with visible light using the light responsive proteins. Controlling self-organization with visible light has the benefit that light provides high spatial and temporal control, it is non-invasive and bio-orthogonal and also an important environmental signal.

Photoswitches to control cell-matrix and cell-cell interactions

In multicellular organisms, cells interact with neighboring cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) to form cell-cell and cell-matrix contacts. The cell then integrates all signals to respond appropriately to its environment by regulating cellular processes such as adhesion, migration, proliferation, apoptosis, gene expression and signaling. We aim to control cell-matrix and cell-cell interactions with light. Manipulating cell-matrix and cell-cell interactions with the photoswitchable molecules will allow for control over cell adhesion with high spatial and temporal resolution, making it possible to study intercellular processes such as collective cell migration and differentiation, and intracellular processes such as focal adhesion and local cell-cell contact dynamics. Such a platform will afford valuable insight into interactions between cells and synthetic surfaces and is applicable to the development of new bio-instructive materials.

 
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